Sunday, October 19, 2008

Evangelism... to our families: What the Church has done wrong

How has the church failed us and our children?

First off, lets look at the church’s responsibility regarding families. The church is to be a place where believers meet together to edify one another, and to stir up one another to good works. It is also a time to review the doctrines of God’s Word(preaching and teaching), to praise God together, and the people are called as a whole to complete the great commission. (See Acts 1:8; 2:40-47) How do these roles apply to the family?

First off, I never see anywhere in the Bible that the church is given a special command to take over the teaching of the children from the family. Thus it remains the role of the church to encourage the families in completing their God-given role.

At the same time, it is also the church’s role to encourage the youth and the children to submit to their parents, and to desire to learn from their parents. The pastor can do this by his sermons and members in the congregation by being supportive of the parent’s roles in their life. The church can also assist the parents by being a good example and reinforcing, by their example, the parent’s teaching.

The church’s biggest downfall is its neglect of its God-given responsibilities (caring for the orphans, widows, and needy, which it has now bestowed upon the government) and usurping the role of the family. The church has extended its ministries to the youth and children within the church, and left the orphans and widows behind. It has turned its ministries into church “baby-sitting programs.”

The church desperately tries to separate the family. They have a “program” for everyone from infants to college kids, instead it should be trying to unite the family, strengthen the families, and encourage the children to be under their parent’s authority.

I have to say I really appreciate the “Family Integrated Church" ministry. Their attempt to keep the families together is excellent. The key is to get the parents teaching their own children the things of the Lord. The church is there to support them in that role.

Some parents may consider themselves unprepared, and rather scared by this daunting task set before them. They should! This is an awesome responsibility that the Lord bestows on every parent. The church, though, can be there to encourage the parents. It is also within the boundaries of the church for the members (and/or leadership) to provide advice and council to the parents, as they train their children.

I also believe the church can also contribute through discipleship. This is done on a one-on-one basis. The focus of discipleship is not to teach and train, rather to encourage and exhort. (See 1Tim. 5:1,2) One way to do this would be for the men in the church (lets say 20+) to chose a young man (one 10+ years younger than him) to just befriend, pray for, give those little words of encouragement, and to encourage to submit to his parents. At the same time, you can do this amongst the women in the church as well. This is not to supplant the parent, only to reinforce what the parent has taught.

Turning in another direction, has the church overlooked “Jerusalem”? Isn’t our closest mission field our children? World missions is a great thing, and an important thing. Witnessing to our own city, state, and country is as well, but aren’t our children our first mission field? Think back to the last time you heard a sermon on missions, was the family mentioned at all? Now, don’t go off the deep end here either. A good balance is necessary. Too much focus on your family without also including ministry is just as dangerous. Remember, the key is to maintain that balance!

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